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Petters associate Vennes sentenced to 15 years

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A former associate of jailed Twin Cities Ponzi scheme architect Tom Petters has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, the Pioneer Press reports.

Frank Vennes got the maximum sentence allowed by a plea deal he struck with prosecutors, the newspaper reports.

He had pleaded guilty in February to a count of aiding and abetting fraud and a count of engaging in illegal monetary transaction.

Vennes had been set for a trial with James Fry, a Minnetonka hedge fund manager also linked to Petters who last week was sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison. Ultimately, Vennes testified against Fry.

Both men helped feed investors into a $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme that Petters managed from his Minnetonka headquarters. Petters is appealing a 50-year prison sentence handed down in 2009.

Vennes was in the news earlier this week when Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn,. returned some of the campaign cash that Vennes trustees have been seeking to get back from a number of Vennes-connected politicians.

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